Camping's all about enjoying the outdoors; but let's face it - electronics are hard to power in the outdoors...There's nothing worse than pulling out your camera to snap a photo of a great view and finding out your battery's dead! Generators are heavy and difficult to lug around, and so the perfect solution is a green source of free energy: the wind!
Although this turbine -because of its small size and lightweight nature- isn't exactly going to run at 120V, it's capable of charging batteries and such. But when the whole thing weighs only 16 ounces, i'd say that's a fair trade off. With access to some fairly simple materials and tools, you can make your very own camping wind turbine!
Even in a low breeze, this turbine is capable of creating a good amount of voltage (see video). A leaf blower is used in this video to create the "wind", however, it is far enough away from the turbine that it only creates the equivalent of a light breeze. The units on the voltmeter are in thousandths of volts and in this video the turbine creates over 1/3 of a volt.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
1/2 inch PVC "T" joint
1" ABS Rod
1" to 1/2" PVC Coupler
3/4" Aluminum Pipe
DC Servo Motor
1/16" Thick ABS Sheeting
1/8" Stainless Steel Rod
1/8" Threaded Hex Screws
You won't be able to find a lot of these items at your nearest Home Depot. It took me a bit of scrounging to get these materials; luckily you don't need large quantities of them.
Scrollsaw or Bandsaw
Lathe or drill press (or crazy good drilling skills...)
Step 2: Motor Setup
The central "hub" originally had 6 holes drilled equidistantly around the 1" ABS piece. After experimentation with the blades, however, I discovered that 3 blades works more efficiently than 6 with my setup. These holes receive the bolts that the blades are attached to.
Drill a hole axially into the center of the ABS "hub" piece to receive the "corkscrew" end of the motor. Once the hole is drilled, glue the "hub" to the motor.
I'll have to admit I got rather lucky on this one; the motor i found was incredibly small and -after some work on the lathe- fit into a slightly modified 1/2" PVC "T" joint. Push the motor in far enough so that the leads are visible through the bottom of the "T" joint. Once the motor is situated correctly and evenly, glue it into place.
Once the motor is glued in, solder wires to the leads on the motor (these wires should be rather long as they will have to feed down the length of the stand and out the bottom). Next, attach the 1" to 1/2" coupler to the bottom of the "T" joint.
On the other end of the "T" joint, cut a slot for the "tail" piece.
Step 3: Blades!
As mentioned earlier, some tests brought me to the conclusion that 3 blades would work better than 6 for this turbine. My blades are 7 inches long and a little bit over 1 3/4" at the widest point.
Cut the blades out of the 1/16" thick ABS sheeting and sand the edges to remove any burrs. I decided to paint my blades green so that they would stand out from the rest of the apparatus. Drill a hole about a 1/2" from the base of the blade. Then attach the blade to the ABS hub with a 1/8" Hex Screw
Follow the same process with the "tail" piece, however, cut out two from the 1/16" sheeting and glue them together so that they fit snugly into the slot on the PVC "T". I left the last 1/2" of the tail black so that it would match the PVC "T" when pushed into the slot.
Step 4: The Stand
Cut the aluminum pipe to a 12" length and then cut 4 equidistant slots into the bottom. These slots should be about 1 1/4" high. Then, cut two rectangular pieces out of the sheeting and cut slots about halfway through both of them. These should fit nicely together and be long enough to extend about an inch past the aluminum pipe (see pictures for clarity).
As shown in picture 5, cut 8 of these pieces (about 1 1/4" wide and 12" to 14" long). Drill three holes in each of these pieces: one on each end and one about 4 inches in from the side without the angled cut.
On the side of the more closely drilled holes, cut a rounded corner (this will allow the "legs" to fold upwards toward the aluminum pipe).
Attach the 8 pieces (in pairs) to each of the four corners of the cross-piece that is attached to the aluminum pipe (see pictures for clarity). I used the 1/8" Hex screws but really any bolt or screw should work. The hole on the side of the angled cut will be for attaching the stakes.
Step 5: Painting!
I have a turbine and I want to paint it black....
This is probably the most simple and yet most fulfilling of all the steps. Once it's painted all nicely, it takes on a real sleek, professional look. I used black spray paint and put on a layer or two just to be safe. Make sure to paint the "legs" of the stand in the extended and the folded positions.
Step 6: Stakes
Cut the 1/8" stainless steel rod into 4 6" lengths. At about 3" down the piece, begin the triangular bend for the stake. After some finagling with the locking pliers and a pair of needle nose pliers, I was able to get it bent into shape. It may be a little tricky at first but you'll get the hang of it.
Leave the triangle open at the bottom so that you can run it through the hole on the "leg" pieces. I actually left mine about 1/4" open to allow free movement when folding of the legs. any smaller, and the stakes would get stuck and get in the way.
Step 7: Test It Out!
Grand Prize in the
Summer Camping Challenge